It was the 22nd June 2004 when we arrived in the “concrete jungle where dreams are made” ready for a new missionary adventure. After plans and prayers, dreams and details we’d finally made it to the USA. Standing in Times Square I looked up at the huge billboards with nervous excitement wondering what the future held, wondering what our lives would look like, what it would feel to call this country my home. After a few days in NYC, we boarded a plane and a few hours ( and a lot of turbulence) later, we landed in the desert that would be our home, joining with our missionary tribe.
And now it is seven years and I’m looking back.
The desert was an appropriate landscape for these years. Our first home in the US was under the vast expanse of the blue Arizona skies. There’s nothing like it and it spoke of vision and opportunity and space above the difficult land. The land itself was arid and dusty and the heat of the sun was relentless. It was tough and in some ways you had to learn to be tough. You had to find water and keep finding water to stay healthy. In the end we knew that life giving water was all we had to share …Then there was a winter, that winter in Minnesota where I learned that other people would bury the people I loved. Where we experienced many other losses.The nights were long and lonely that winter. I remembered that missionaries once travelled to other countries with their belongings in a coffin, expecting to lay down their lives for the gospel. And we laid our lives down again, discovering that with Jesus death is just the beginning.
Yet in every landscape, in every season, under every sky we have seen wonder. The wonder of lives changed, healed bodies, people set free. The wonder of the kindness of strangers, the constancy of our missional family. The wonder of our children, born in the desert who amaze me daily. They are our precious desert flowers, strong and beautiful. Who says the desert only brings pain? Look again, my friends. I’ve learned the desert is the place of the God encounter, of worship and surrender. The place where the battles are determined. And in the winter, though the land is deathly silent, God is not asleep and He is watching. So yes I’ve known wonder – the wonder of walking with a God who knows my name and calls my friend. He has washed my dusty, cracked feet. In the coldest, darkest times He is my song that brings warmth in the night.
Seven years. It has been bitter and it has been sweet.We carried losses, we carry victories in our hearts. We carry scars, we carry memories.
We carry on.